On Tuesday morning, the New York Times published an essay by Angelina Jolie, where she bluntly described her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. Jolie tested positive for a rare gene, BRAC1, which greatly increases the likelihood that the person with the gene will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer. In addition to making the decision to have the painful surgeries, Jolie also described her choice to publicly discuss her health. Shortly after her piece was published, there was a frenzy of media response pieces, many of which were directed at the distinctly angry public reaction to Jolie’s essay (measured imperfectly through comments, blog posts, and tweets). At Salon, Maria Konnikova made the excellent point that while Jolie was bringing a different kind of awareness to breast cancer prevention, under the current healthcare system in the states her actions and choices are not only widely unavailable to American women, but in fact the broader awareness of genetic testing for BRAC1 may harm some women in material ways. Here in Canada, each province has different levels of coverage (though all provinces cover testing for the BRAC1 and 2 genes, depending on a patient’s medical history), but more options are available to the average Canadian woman when considering her own health.
India, if you’ll excuse the pun, cannot seem to get its fill of porn stars. Now that performer Priya Rai is soon to join Canada’s own adult star Sunny Leone in mainstream Bollywood, it appears that Indian film’s tumultuous relationship with sexuality is entering a new phase.
To the outside observer, it can seem like a radical change. Leone rose to fame in India after appearing on reality show Bigg Boss, prompting complaints that the show was promoting pornography. Soon after, however, she was cast in amajor Bollywood picture, which, despite some protests, went on to do well at the box office. For an industry in which many actors still refuse to kiss onscreen, let alone engage in sex scenes, this open embrace of hardcore porn stars can seem stark. While Bollywood’s films have hardly shied away from sexuality, they’ve often come at it obliquely, preferring suggestion over the obvious or explicit. Now, what was once only talked about in private is being spoken of more openly.
Just when we thought we were moving past the old gay tropes, with same-sex marriage almost a decade old in Canada and the tenth state in the union to our south signing it into law this week, Jason Collins comes along and sets a pick on us all, and a big one gets away from us.
I remember at the time thinking Ellen’s was the coming-out to end all comings-out. Then Doogie did it, and Spock, and Iceland’s PM, and Gandalf and Anderson Cooper and Wade Davis. Then there was Chris Kluwe’s lustful cockmonster, and I just thought it was over. Not only did we have all sorts of great out people, but the whole process of coming out seemed to be fading away—the very assumption that one was straight until proven otherwise had eroded to such an extent that maybe folks in the public eye, like people in private, no longer had to come out in a big tea ceremony so much as just show up at your wedding with their same-sex date.
But Collins has reminded us, with a gratuitous courage that is not elided by any of the caveats that have come to light since (more on those below), that coming out remains a river unforded. As a bonus, he called attention to the fact that, like sex itself, outness must be consensual to earn the name.
The news cycle for the Boston Marathon bombings continues to spin. Authorities have now arrested three more suspects, a development covered in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Egypt and Turkey.
None of these places have a vested interest in the fact that three people have been arrested in Boston. Why are they all running stories on it?
Due to the time difference, the news perhaps hasn’t reached Pakistan yet, but it surely will in a few hours, when it will receive a healthy round of media coverage. Which is weird. Pakistani journalist Rafia Zakaria tells us there were 652 bombings in Pakistan last year, but she says Boston was different, not only hitting Americans harder than bombings anywhere else in the world, but Pakistanis, too.
The hactivist collective, once considered unruly and menacing, is now leading our country's ethical conversation—what does it mean when we trust Anons more than the RCMP?
Disabled people both want to and do have sex. That simple, obvious fact has caused something of a stir in the UK recently, thanks to the new documentary series Can Have Sex Will Have Sex, which, among other things, features a 45-year-old disabled man losing his virginity to a sex surrogate.
To call the reaction a controversy, however, would be pushing it. The responses from some columnists or the comments under such pieces are actually quite refreshing—mostly, and quite correctly, “how could anyone object to this?” Sure, part of that is due to the gradual change in attitudes toward sex. But there’s also a case to be made that it’s because the web has helped take the plain truth about bodies and sexuality and made it a lot more public.
The Steubenville Duo were officially found guilty Sunday morning, after months of being tried, exonerated and condemned in the court of social media. It’s been a signal case in many ways, but for those of us not into Friday Night Lights, the main one is the effect of two quite distinct types of digital penetration.
The first—the sort the boys have been convicted of perpetrating on the girl—is defined as rape in Ohio, but more on that later. It’s the other sort that we are now wrapping our minds around, and this case is as good as any in helping us out with that.
Betty Freidan's Feminine Mystique is half a century old. Which means that new books, people, and ideas resonate in today's world. Here, a younger generation of feminists explain, in their own words, what inspired their beliefs.
However much public awareness of bullying has increased, we have a habit of oversimplifying cases that defy easy equations of cause and effect. As Emily Bazelon points out, it's rarely as straightforward a case of one kid being driven to despair solely by the meaner kids.
Why the push to replace ‘prostitute’ with ‘sex worker’ obscures the real issues.
Manitoba judge Lori Douglas is on trial for her sex life (among other things). But what happened to her could happen to any of us. In an age where everyone risks exposure thanks to technology and social media we need to get over the lives of others.
Whoopi Goldberg and I have something in common: we’ve both played an angry vagina on stage. I was in a university production of The Vagina Monologues. My job was to burst through an entrance at the back of the art gallery and run screaming through the audience before hollering my opening lines: “My vagina’s angry! It is! It’s pissed off! My vagina’s furious and it needs to talk about all this shit—it needs to talk to you!”
A run-in with a school teacher over gay-positive materials in the classroom highlights the anxieties all parents might feel over their children's expanding horizons. Because at its best, education is dangerous. It exposes our kids to opinions and ideas beyond those they receive at home.
In the age of modern science, religion is often thought of as a placeholder for what we don’t yet understand. And since therapy is supposed to help us understand our own minds, bringing God into the therapy session seems like giving up. But while science can explain how our minds work, it’s less helpful with ordering our inner lives.
The practice of magic, as Alex Stone tells us in his book, Fooling Houdini, has its roots in the venerable arts of stealing and cheating. When Apollo Robbins, Vegas entertainer and “gentleman thief,” delights audiences by stealing jewellery off their necks and glasses off their noses, he exploits techniques adapted from Dickensian wallet-lifters.
It's a perverse triumph of feminism that girls now have idols as emotionally retarded as boys do. The quartet of Girls are our primetime example, with their self-absorption and failures to love. Post-Sex and the City, we’re given to gaze up at women who aren’t larger than life, but exactly the size of it. It’s the kind of portraiture that Katrina Onstad, writing against stereotypes, does so well.
For an otherwise dry study, the 12th Annual National Report Card on Healthcare, released earlier this month, reads, in places, like a Dickens novel. The survey, commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association, polls citizens about their opinions on healthcare, as well...